History

The Cascadia Poetry Festival is a result of 25 years of organizing poetry events and conducting interviews on Whole Systems approaches. Founding Director Paul Nelson first learned of the concept of bioregionalism in 1994 when he interviewed Peter  Berg of the Planet Drum Foundation.

The notion of considering natural and cultural boundaries, rather than arbitrary political ones, is a key theme in the work of Gary Snyder. We believe that it is an inherently political act to focus energy in bioregional and cultural communities and thus the effort to connect with poets and writers from Cascadia, the bioregion in which we live.

The first Cascadia Poetry Festival happened at SPLAB in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood, March 23-25, 2012. (Details here.) Our headliner was Sam Hamill, a 40 year resident of Cascadia. Others featured: Kim Goldberg, Trevor Carolan, Catherine Owen, Tim McNulty, Kate Braid, dan raphael, Heidi Greco, Maleea Acker, Judith Roche and Kathleen Flenniken.

Other iterations have happened in Seattle (Spring Street Center, 2014), Nanaimo, BC, (2015), Seattle (Spring Street Center, 2016, Tribute to Denise Levertov), Tacoma (WA State History Museum, 2017, Tribute to Richard Brautigam), Anacortes (2019, Tribute to Sam Hamill.) We have also conducted one Cascadia Poetry Retreat (Seattle, 2018, featuring Andrew Schelling.)